Isn’t that how it goes? My mother knows a lot about this “earth to earth” cycle. She’s a passionate gardener and makes sure to put back everything – grass, leaves, flowers, branches and twigs – into the compost, to let it become earth again.
What’s that got to do with jewellery, you may ask, and before you click to go elsewhere, I’ll tell you.
For years, I’ve kept this copper tube, knowing I wanted to use it for jewellery. The heating once broke in our office, and when the owner of the house came to show us that “this was the piece that was broken”, I fell in love with it and immediately saw its jewellery potential. I asked if I could keep it, and it’s been waiting in a box until now, when I have finally got my teeth – well, saw – into it.
Metals also come from the earth. I just learned that copper is the third most recycled metal (after iron and aluminium). It is estimated that some 80 % of the copper that has ever been mined is still in use today (and copper has been used for more than 10.000 years). Sounds very much like a compost cycle to me. Bring up from the earth, process to metal, make objects, re-make other objects, then melt again. Over and over again.
Who knows, this piece will perhaps one day provide someone’s house with electricity? Around half of the copper in the world is used for electrical wire.
Even in my small scale metal work at home, I do want to think that it matters that I re-use and upcycle this old copper piece instead of buying a brand new one. Besides, this piece has a story, a background, I know where it came from. It triggers my imagination much more than a shining brand new piece from the DIY store. Brand new material is neutral, has no voice or tone or direction. Used material seems to bring with it some kind of hint, a whisper to listen to, and a vague sense of a soul.
A lot of designers upcycle and make great jewellery from all kinds of objects. I think I’ll get back to that another time. I have a few favourites in mind and I keep discovering new ones all the time.
Ashes to ashes, keep your eyes open and the cycle going!